(June 13, 2018; Day 4) – Spanish team MAPFRE is dominating the lead of the penultimate Volvo Ocean Race leg as the fleet rocketed round the coast of Scotland today.
The onboard speedos were screaming into the mid-20s as southerly winds built to more than 25 knots around ten miles off the coast of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
Although more than 500 miles of the 1,300-mile leg from Cardiff, Wales, to Gothenburg, Sweden, remain, the pressure on the front-runners is relentless.
Overall race leaders Dongfeng Race Team occupies the runner-up spot, and if MAPFRE were to win the leg with Dongfeng in second place, the Spanish team would be tied on points (should Dongfeng, as projected, collect a bonus point for fastest overall elapsed time) with their Chinese rivals, setting up a winner-takes-all final leg from Gothenburg to The Hague.
With so much at stake, the teams are pushing harder than ever before in the knowledge that what happens now will ultimately affect their overall position in the race.
“It’s going to be downwind, quite windy, and now we have to be fast to catch up to MAPFRE,” says Kevin Escoffier while steering Dongfeng Race Team through the waves. Translation: sleeping is for losers.
“We haven’t slept much at all this leg,” says Australian Olympic sailor Nina Curtis, a crewmember of fourth-placed Team Brunel. “Even when it was super light we were constantly moving the stack around. I think the most sleep I’ve strung together in one go is one hour. I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired before. The guys told me it would be intense but this is a whole new level of intensity.”
In less than 36 hours the teams are expected to arrive in Gothenburg, but from a weather perspective it’s about to get much worse before it gets better.
The crews will have to fight through gale to storm force winds near 45 knots, driving rain and poor visibility as they cross the North Sea and head south along the coast of Norway.